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Feeling Guilty About Not Breastfeeding? Don’t!

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The pressure to exclusively breastfeed our babies has become so strong, that women who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed are shamed into a horrific amount of guilt. I’m sure you’ve heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk exclusively for the first six months, but this just isn’t possible for lots of parents. No disrespect to the organizations who work to raise awareness about the benefits of breast milk, but enough already! I think we got the point. My favorite new baby feeding campaign is “Fed is Best”. I agree wholeheartedly!

 

Should I Feel Guilty for Not Wanting to Breastfeed?

Nope, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not wanting to breastfeed. I hated it, and I didn’t make it for 6 months. I found breastfeeding insanely stressful and painful and I struggled with my milk supply for a few agonizing months. I nursed and pumped night and day. I went to lactation support groups. I drank gallons of milk-inducing teas, and spoke with a lactation consultant daily – all to avoid supplementing with formula. Looking back, I realize that stress and anxiety about exclusively breastfeeding were likely my biggest obstacles, and probably had a negative impact on my supply.

The lactation consultants all wanted to keep me exclusively breastfeeding. I seemed to be the only one in my new mom’s group who was struggling, and I didn’t know any experienced moms who may have given me permission to give my baby some formula and give myself a break. Ironically, it was a non-mom friend who suggested formula when she found me in a puddle of tears over my milk supply. I really should have given up breastfeeding sooner but I just felt too much outside pressure to listen to what I knew in my heart.

I just didn’t want to breastfeed and I shouldn’t have been made to feel guilty for it.

 

What if I CAN’T Breastfeed?

First of all, know that you’re not alone. There are millions of parents worldwide who aren’t able to breastfeed. Two dads. Adoptive parents. Parents who’ve used a surrogate. Mothers who’ve had medical complications or simply don’t produce enough milk. And moms like me who tried an unreasonable amount of things to make breastfeeding work, but it just didn’t. Whether you simply hate breastfeeding and want to quit or actually can’t breastfeed, formula is your friend! Don’t be afraid to let go of your breastfeeding goals if it’s just not working for you. Your baby will thrive and grow just as well!

A friend of mine, after detailed planning for a natural home birth, ended up with an emergency C-section, followed by a serious infection in her incision, two extra hospital weeks with IV antibiotics, then by mastitis, and more antibiotics. This impacted her breastfeeding relationship and it was devastating for my friend. She was determined to breastfeed, but she literally couldn’t. The result was a crippling case of postpartum depression and an inability to produce enough milk to feed her baby when she was out of the hospital. She didn’t feel bonded with her baby, and her guilt about all of it was excruciating. Her postpartum depression was so severe, her mom had to take care of her and the baby for over six months. Thankfully my friend got treatment for postpartum depression, she recovered, and her baby grew up to be a healthy kid on formula!

 

How to Let Go of Breastfeeding Guilt

If this resonates with you and you’re ready to quit breastfeeding, do it. If not for yourself, do it for your baby. The key to letting go of breastfeeding is this: your baby needs a healthy, happy, balanced mother more than they need breastmilk. Your stress and anxiety is not good for your baby. Formula is not poison and will give your baby all the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong!

We at Mommywise understand how to make you feel comfortable and confident about your parenting choices. If you’re worried about losing your breastfeeding relationship because you’re ready for sleep training, we can help, whether you choose to continue breastfeeding or not. We believe that Fed is Best for your baby, and that they deserve a happy mama!

 

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Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

Natalie Nevares

Natalie Nevares

As Mommywise Founder, my mission is to help families grow and thrive, provide sustainable income for women and mothers, raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders, and make treatment more accessible. As a mentor and parent, my mission is to role-model a strong woman, parent, and leader who endeavors to leave a legacy of positive change through service and humility.

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